Gingrich Out, But What’s Next?

Newt Gingrich will officially drop out of the race next Tuesday, but he’s already cut his supporters loose. Rick Perry endorsed Mitt Romney last night, and Gingrich’s campaign says he’ll follow suit. But how much of a role will the Republican Party want to give Gingrich, after his harsh attacks on Romney and excessively-long campaign? According to Politico, it might be next to nothing:

“I think [he’s] unlikely to get even a non-prime slot to slash at Obama in Tampa,” former Gingrich-turned-Rick-Perry adviser Dave Carney said. “It’s quite possible that the Romney folks will want to focus on the future and move quickly away from the primary. Time will tell if the speaker gets his own speed-dial number at the surrogate operation in Boston this fall.” …

Which part of the country is Gingrich uniquely qualified to help Romney, beyond maybe Georgia, which is no longer relevant at this point? If the Romney campaign decides not to give the former speaker a role – and they have plenty of reasons not to, including Gingrich’s penchant for controversy and his past nastiness toward Romney – it’s no real loss for them. Romney certainly doesn’t need him. And imagine if Gingrich is given a surrogate position, and then decides to go off the reservation and take a gratuitous swipe at Romney during an interview. That’s not unrealistic, and it’s a risk for the campaign.

If Gingrich had cashed out in early March, after he won Georgia, he would be a better position than he is today. That would have shown he had some handle on reality. At this point, if he gets sidelined, he has his own ambition to blame.